Tip for fans planning on watching future D.C. United-Miami Fusion games: Don't be late, and pay close attention to the first nine minutes, because that's when the crucial action in games between these teams takes place.
Last night at RFK Stadium, United's Ben Olsen and John Maessner notched goals in the first nine minutes and D.C. went on to a rain-soaked 3-1 victory before an announced crowd of 11,136.
It was the second Fusion-United game in five days, and both contests changed dramatically in the early going -- Saturday in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., the referee ejected Miami defender Leo Cullen in the ninth minute.
Early in the second half, fans in lower-deck Section 310 were forced to move from their seats by falling stadium debris [See Metro, Page B4]. No one was hurt.
As for the game, United Coach Thomas Rongen said the quick start was crucial.
"We wanted to score early; I thought from a psychological standpoint, that was important," Rongen said. "That was the intent -- come out early, don't allow them to breathe, don't allow them any joy."
The Fusion was playing without three starters from Saturday's game, a 3-2 United win in a shootout that included a league-record four red cards.
Last night's win lifted United to 18-7 with a Major League Soccer-high 44 points. Miami is 10-15 with 22 points.
United created scoring chances from the outset. Forward A.J. Wood, starting in place of suspended Roy Lassiter, spun the ball across the open net in the first minute, just missing a goal. In the third minute, effervescent midfielder Olsen slid into the middle as Marco Etcheverry took the ball near the left corner. Etcheverry lofted a cross, and Olsen headed it past Fusion goalkeeper Garth Lagerwey. United's coaching staff encouraged Olsen to take advantage of a sometimes-static Fusion defense by slipping from the left into the middle, Rongen said.
"I'm right-footed, so when I'm on the left sometimes it's instinct to come into the middle," Olsen said. "There were so many people [on the left] with Marco and Jaime [Moreno] there, so I made a far-post run. The ball was perfect."
Six minutes later, Maessner got a goal against his former team (Maessner was traded from Miami with Chris Albright on July 19).
"You feel emotion on the field after scoring two goals [early]; it feels like you're going to win 8-0," United goalkeeper Mark Simpson said. "That shows how well we stuck together and played in the last 45 minutes."
United Notes: Rich Grady, the referee who issued a league-record four red cards in last Saturday's United-Fusion game in Fort Lauderdale, will not work his next scheduled game, Saturday's contest between Los Angeles and Dallas. Grady and U.S. Soccer, which assigns and supervises MLS referees, came to the decision mutually in response to last week's game, said Dan Courtemanche, MLS's vice president for communications.
Esse Baharmast, U.S. Soccer's director of officials, met Tuesday with Grady and said yesterday that no disciplinary action would be taken against Grady. He stopped short of saying he was satisfied with Grady's performance last week. What Baharmast told Grady "is between Rich and I," Baharmast said.
Miami 1 0 1
D.C. 3 0 3
SCORING -- D.C: Olsen 3rd (Etcheverry, Moreno); Maessner 9th (Moreno, Williams); Aunger 42nd (Moreno, Maessner); M: Welton 23rd (Sahaydak, Gutierrez).
LINEUPS -- M: Lagerwey, Aldrich, Gorter, Kamler, Bilyk (Rocha 67th), Gutierrez, Mastroeni, Marshall, Sahaydak (Rooney 29th), Welton, Kuhn (Martinez 29th). D.C.: Simpson, Agoos, Pope, Talley, Aunger, Williams, Olsen (Moore 68th), Etcheverry (Otero 78th), Maessner, Wood (Albright 75th), Moreno.
REVOLUTION 2, METROSTARS 1: Jeff Baicher, John Harkes and Giovanni Savarese scored shootout goals to lift visiting New England to victory and extending the MetroStars' losing streak to an MLS-record 10 games.
FIRE 2, WIZARDS 0: Zach Thornton stopped three shots, including a penalty kick in the 71st minute to lead host Chicago.